10/19/2009

Turkey to transport Iraqi natural gas to Europe

Khaleej Times – Turkey’s Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan and Iraqi Premier Nuri al-Maliki signed a number of deals including energy cooperation and water sharing last Thursday to boost bilateral relations. At a news conference with Maliki, Erdogan said trade between the two countries was worth USD 5 billion - a figure he hoped to increase fourfold as soon as possible, he said. “A new stage has begun in our bilateral relations”, said Erdogan. The European Union candidate Turkey aims to position itself as a vital energy and trade corridor with its eastern neighbors, including Iraq, Iran, Syria and the South Caucasus. Turkish and Iraqi officials signed more than 40 agreements, including a Memorandum of Understanding to transport Iraqi natural gas to Europe via Turkey. Other agreements focused on water sharing, transportation, health, agriculture, education and engineering. Government sources said Iraqi gas will be sent on to Europe, which will add to Turkey’s plans to become a major regional energy hub for European customers. It was not clear whether the gas will go through the EUR 7.9 billion worth European Union-backed Nabucco pipeline project, aimed to cut European dependence on Russian gas. Maliki said in July that Iraq could supply 15 billion cubic meters of natural gas to Europe. Turkish officials said the two countries also plan to extend an agreement over an Iraq-Turkey oil pipeline, complete new shared power lines and boost the capacity of existing ones.